the fundamentalist from the X dimension

That, I think, would be me…

In my universe, the history of the New Evangelical compromise is apparently vastly different from that of the universe I currently inhabit. I am not certain how I managed a paradigm shift. I haven’t visited any time portals or experienced warp drive that I know of, but apparently it has happened.

I know this is true because I am at the moment thinking about what I am hearing out of the Keven Bauder lectures at International Baptist College. I mentioned them earlier and also mentioned that I had a few critical things to say concerning them. The more that I think about this, however, I am coming to an inescapable conclusion. I must be from a parallel universe. I am not sure how I got here, but I really would like to go back to my own time and space. (And I am wondering what in the world kind of havoc my altar ego from this universe is wreaking on my own universe.)

The best way to explain this is to offer you some audio clips from Bauder’s lectures, then to explain ‘what really happened’ as I understand it. (Bear in mind that my recollections are undoubtedly from an alternate version of reality, so you can carry on as you were… these are just the meanderings of a man caught in a time wrinkle, desperately hoping to find his way out!)

First, the audio clips. The first is from near the end of Lecture 7, then several from Lecture 8. The whole presentation up to this point is a lengthy discussion of the church, its nature and boundaries. This took a total of 7 hours, 38 minutes, and 43 seconds of talking on the first two days of the seminar (3:34:34 on day 1, 4:04:09 on day two), but who’s counting? All of that got to the end of lecture 7 and finally to some of the whole reason for gathering, to talk about the Biblical Doctrine of Separation. Perhaps some of that time was necessary, but even Bauder noticed his student’s eyes glazing over as he ponderously worked his way through his subject.1

As for the contents of the clips, I would have you think of clip one, from lecture 7, separately from the others. This is my first parallel universe experience. The succeeding clips should be considered together. They sum up my parallel universe experience from lecture 8. I will have other commentary later on a few more clips, but these will suffice to point out a major problem in fundamentalism. [Or else a major problem in the space/time continuum, I’ll leave you to decide which alternative is the real reality.]

Clip one:

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As to clip one, “MacArthur still a fundamentalist?”, this statement, offered as an illustration of how things should be done and weren’t in the past, is the first statement in the long series of lectures that gave me pause.

In my universe, John MacArthur has never been a fundamentalist. Even if you want to argue that early on (when he was a BJU student, maybe) he was a fundamentalist, it is still a fact that prior to the blood controversy he would not join with fundamentalists and in fact ridiculed and opposed those who did. I base this on my memory of the state of ecclesiastical affairs in the 1970s, prior to the blood controversy, and on the statements of individuals I know who are very closely acquainted with MacArthur, and were so in those years.

In the lecture, Bauder describes briefly the controversy, but spends most of his time attacking a fundamentalist (not by name, but we know who he means) over a related error. Before my critics pounce, the fundamentalist in question was in error. No doubt about it. But it seems curious to hear a fundamentalist seminary president seemingly go out of his way to make this attack in this context.

I don’t particularly care to go into the details of the blood controversy here. Plenty of ink (and pixels) have been spilled over it already so you can satisfy yourself concerning the details. We aren’t arguing that point here. Any comments that attempt to argue that point will be deleted. The point we are arguing here is this: was John MacArthur ever properly considered to be a fundamentalist, either by himself or by the fundamentalist mainstream at any point in history and if he was, what is it that pushed him over to the dark side? [And by ‘fundamentalist’ we don’t mean the ‘historic fundamentalist’ term, whatever that means.]

I can assure you that in my universe the answer to the first question is negative and the second question is therefore moot. [This is not an apology for anything that went on in the blood controversy!]

~~~

Now on to the clips from lecture 8. I have given them these titles:

  • Majority Evangelical View

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  • Difference between Neos and Fundies

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  • Great War for Evangelical Mainstream

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The last clip is the longest and perhaps the most critical in this argument. The picture that Bauder is painting here (and he must have had some diagram on a powerpoint or something as he was delivering the lecture) is of a spectrum or continuum representing the people who might be considered “Evangelicals and Fundamentalists” during the period of 1957 through 1983ish.

  • On the extreme left of this picture are a minority group of people called “New Evangelicals”. This would include Billy Graham, Carl Henry, Harold Ockenga, Edward Carnell and others.
  • On the extreme right of this picture is another minority group of people called “Separatist Fundamentalists” [pay close attention to that term]. This group isn’t named, but would presumably include the Joneses, the Cedarholms, the Ketchams, and a host of others who might have been leading names in fundamentalism in those years.
  • In the middle of this picture is a large group of people Bauder calls the “Evangelical Mainstream”. The war I mention in the clip name is the war for the hearts and minds of these people. Bauder presents them as committed to the idea of separation from apostates, but mostly undecided about what to do with the New Evangelicals. Included in this group are some Fundamentalists, listen carefully to what Bauder says and you will catch that reference.

In the great war for the middle group, Bauder describes two strategies. The New Evangelicals appealed to the middle with arguments based on love, tolerance, and unity. They essentially said that in the aftermath of WW2, this is no time for division, let’s find a way to love each other.

On the other hand, says Bauder, the fundamentalist strategy was to challenge those who were undecided with “If you aren’t with us, you must be with them. If you are with them, we repudiate you.” This strategy alienated the Evangelical middle (who took almost 30 years to make up their minds!) and pushed them into the arms of the New Evangelicals. Essentially, Bauder is blaming the fundamentalists… oh, excuse me, what Bauder calls the “separatist fundamentalists”… he blames the separatist fundamentalists for forcing the evangelicals out when they could have been won.

Perhaps there is a universe where this happened. It didn’t happen that way in my universe.

In my universe, the vast majority of evangelicals embraced Billy Graham and the New Evangelicalism whole hog, with open arms. In Canada, my home and native land, this included virtually all evangelical churches. In particular, fundamentalism in Canada was closely associated with T. T. Shields, a man who was [how shall we say?] somewhat abrasive in his contentions for the faith [at least, that is how his enemies characterized him]. He died in 1955 and with his passing, the conservative churches in his denomination virtually all embraced the new evangelicalism. The other evangelicals in Canada had no such stalwart for fundamentalism in their leadership and all of them quickly joined in. As I was growing up (60s and 70s), you were considered unclean, a blight and spot on the feast of joy, if you dared breathe a word against anything Billy Graham was doing.

In America [in my universe], a similar response occurred, except that a few stalwart men stood up against what Billy Graham et al were doing and said, “No.” A whole host of churches stood with them. Some pastors led their churches out of conventions and denominations to keep themselves pure from the new evangelical compromise, choosing to stand with those radical ‘separatist’ fundamentalists who were willing to risk their ministries to stand against the new philosophy that was sweeping the land. Very few of those who stayed in the evangelical circles were undecided. They knew what Graham et al were saying, and they liked it.

And, in my universe, the evangelical mainstream attacked and ridiculed those who decided to stand with the fundamentalists. A friend of mine told me the story of his wife’s decision to attend BJU and the storm of criticism that erupted in her evangelical family as a result. My own decision to attend BJU met with evangelical criticism and opposition. Mike Sproul posted on Sharper Iron [post from July 1, 2005] concerning his dad’s experience at Dallas Theological Seminary (approximately in the years 1958-59). He was mocked and ridiculed there as a BJU graduate, later leaving to attend Central Seminary (ironical, isn’t it?), a fundamentalist institution. [Apparently Mike and his dad might have lived in the same universe as me. Somehow we have both made it through the time warp into this universe, I don’t know how that happened, since we have never met. Maybe there is more than one time warp.]

Were there situations where individuals wavered during those years? Well, yes, there were. My son highlighted Bill Bright and his wavering in the comments section of this post. Some other examples might be Tim Lahaye, BJU grad, who decided to align himself with Campus Crusade rather than BJU. As a result, an invitation to speak at BJU’s Bible Conference was rescinded. If you know the details, really, what else could be done?) Jack van Impe likewise began to utter uncertain sounds and eventually fundamentalists began to break with him. And he certainly has proven to be extremely looney in the years since. (Is Bauder suggesting that perhaps we should have loved and tolerated van Impe? Encouraged him along, maybe?)

I really would like to hear some evidence, some explicit history, of vast swaths of Evangelicalism remaining undecided through the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, and even into the 1980s as Bauder alleges. When and where did this happen? With whom did it happen? Were the challenges to these people right or wrong? And how many people did this actually impact?

I submit (I know, this is just my parallel universe) that the vast majority of evangelicals made their minds up early. They were on the New Evangelical bandwagon early and they stayed on it. Individuals who wavered and eventually went to their side may have done so out of resentment at fundamentalist challenges, that is possible. It is also possible that the evangelical world represented more opportunity, more people, and more $$$, so SHAZAM, those fundamentalists are just too mean, dontcha know? And there could of course be other motives, some of them perhaps even spiritual (but not discerning).

Well, all this is my parallel universe, I am sure.

I really would like to get back to my universe. In my universe, the leaders of fundamentalist institutions wouldn’t be going around to other fundamentalist institutions and teaching historical revisionism. Nor would they be doing it in their own schools. In my universe, I wouldn’t be having so much concern about the young people being trained in fundamentalist schools, because in my universe, the young people wouldn’t be being taught to resent separatist fundamentalists who ruined everything. In my universe, the young people would be taught the truth about what happened in the New Evangelical compromise and how it profoundly affected the ecclesiastical scene.

I will have more comments later, there are a few more points from these lectures I would like to discuss. In the meantime, I wonder if any of my readers might be from the X dimension, like I am? I wonder if the history in your universe is the same as mine? Perhaps we can collectively figure out where we slipped through that time warp and get back home. [Because you know what they do do ETs in this universe, don’t you?]

don_sig2

Notes:

  1. The third day of the seminar, by the way, took another 4 hours and 3 minutes (1:28:37 for lecture 8, 1:25:39 for lecture 9, and 1:08:54). I include all this information for two reasons: 1. If you decide to work your way through this material, be prepared for a long listen. 2. It is no easy task to sift through this amount of material. If it had all been on the topic at hand, it would have been more interesting. []

Comments

  1. Don,

    I’m going to listen to the whole series too and then I’ll tell you what I think. I’ll definitely be going through it very slowly, so don’t expect my comments for awhile. Based on what you say here, that is very astounding. I expect you’ll get attacked again or ignored totally as a means of attack. This brand of fundamentalism is very much a club that will defend each other. This, of course, ironically is what the young fundamentalists would say is one of fundamentalism’s major problems.

    I recognize that you don’t like the fact that he didn’t start talking about separation itself until late in session seven. However, to make the conclusions he does, I think he believed it necessary to show what he believed was a Scriptural basis of unity.

    Interesting stuff, Don.

  2. Hi Kent,

    To be a little more charitable about the length, I will concede that some discussion/definition of Christian unity and boundaries is warranted by the topic. But… all that said, it did get long and ponderous. The volume of verbiage tends to confuse and ‘overload’ the senses, so to speak. I have been going over some of this, especially the critical lectures, more than once in order to grasp what is being said.

    There are a lot of ironies going on in all of this. (Some of them sharper than others!!!)

    Maranatha!
    Don Johnson
    Jer 33.3

  3. I think the length is good. To cover such a topic would take a few lines to say. So I am thankful that you are willing to address issues like this. I like to know view points that are not necessarily mind. But I do believe you give an honest report.

    I agree with Bauder about misrepresenting preachers positions, how often have I read and heard wrong viewpoints.

    Most likely the wise position to take is no position on the issue of where you are a fundamentalist or an evangelical. Since there are so many brands of each.

    I like both, and I like to read both you and Kent. I do believe we all love the Lord, and desire to know His word and live in His likeness. But I do like to address issues for a better understanding.

  4. Hi Charles,

    I don’t think anyone should misrepresent the positions of others. The particular issue he mentions, the John MacArthur blood controversy is a long and tangled tale. My point is not that Bauder is inaccurate about what happened (I am not arguing that point one way or another) but that Bauder is inaccurate in saying that if it weren’t for the blood controversy, MacArthur would “still” be a fundamentalist.

    I would like someone to provide evidence that MacArthur was a fundamentalist (as the term is generally defined — and no, let’s not get sidetracked on definitions) at the time of the blood controversy or at any time at all.

    And again, my point here is not to try to figure out where Bauder is or where anyone else is for that matter. My issue here is the accuracy of the assertions Bauder is making.

    It seems to me that he is painting a distorted picture of history which could well have an influence on youngsters who hear such a presentation.

    Of course, the other alternative is that I am simply from another dimension, remembering a different history.

    So far I have no evidence to prove that the two dimension theory is incorrect!

    Maranatha!
    Don Johnson
    Jer 33.3

  5. I would like someone to provide evidence that MacArthur was a fundamentalist (as the term is generally defined — and no, let’s not get sidetracked on definitions) at the time of the blood controversy or at any time at all.

    That is a fair question, Don. Having listened to John MacArthur since 1976 and visited the church a number of times, and sat down and talked to him over the years, I have never asked him that question. The next time I will. I would say he is not a fundamentalist after the Jack Hyles or Bob Jones, or Pensacola brand.

    I do agree that we need to be correct as much as possible as to what kind of fundamentalist we are. While I would say I am an independent baptist and a fundamentalist, I would say others would say, I am not. Now the question would be, am I misrepresenting the position?

    Thanks

    But again that is most likely your point.

  6. Hi Charles,

    There is a definition of fundamentalist that says essentially “I believe the fundamentals, therefore I am a fundamentalist.” MacArthur might subscribe to that definition.

    There is another definition that insists on a militancy for the faith that includes refusal to cooperate with other Christians who are in cooperation with error. There is a whole host of details and qualifications in this position, which is why I don’t want to get into definitions, it isn’t the purpose of this post.

    BTW, Bob Jones would be horrified to be categorized with Jack Hyles and Pensacola today.

    Back to my point in this post: I am just remembering history differently than the speaker I am highlighting. This makes his presentation quite confusing to me.

    I have listened to all ten lectures in this series now. In the last lecture, I find a good deal to agree with the speaker. I hope to post some of that in the next day or two… I am on the road and don’t have as much time as I would like.

    Maranatha!
    Don Johnson
    Jer 33.3

  7. Having turn sixty one on the 22nd, I find myself enjoying the Lord more today than ever. With the Bloggers and websites learning so much more. Getting to know a few more preachers/pastors, has been a joy. I hope we can learn from each other, love each other, and share our concerns with each other in the spirit that we desire.

    Personally, thanks for the posts about the issues you bring up, I am learning to understand better the issues at hand.

    Thanks brother

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